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Lack of access to reliable transportation is one of the most pervasive barriers to health care for children in the United States. The result is missed opportunities for immunizations and routine well-child care, increased incidence of untreated chronic illnesses, increased use of emergency rooms for non-emergency care, and an increase in preventable hospitalizations. This is further exacerbated when a lack of transportation resources occurs in an area that has been identified as a Health Professional Shortage Area or Dental Health Professional Shortage Area by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where oftentimes families must travel 20 miles or farther to reach a primary care provider.
A 2006 Child Health Transportation Survey, conducted in collaboration with The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, found that:
The Child Health Transportation Initiative (CHTI), a comprehensive research, public education and advocacy program, calls attention to the critical deficiencies of public transportation systems that preclude millions of lower-income children from accessing health care services. Through public-private partnerships, Children’s Health Fund (CHF) supports the creation and evaluation of local pilot initiatives that improve children’s access to transportation for health care services. The Mississippi Children’s Health Project and the Arkansas Children’s Health Project, both of which are located in the Mississippi Delta, were the first Children’s Health Projects within the CHF National Program to receive funds for child health care pilot transportation projects. The CHTI, through local pilot initiatives, will also test computer software that interfaces with CHF’s Electronic Health Records Information System. Electronic records will enable medical staff to easily schedule transportation services during the medical visit.
The Children's Health Fund is conducting a comprehensive public education and advocacy effort targeted at the general public as well as elected officials, policymakers and other decision-makers at multiple levels of government. While public funds for improving transportation access are available in both the transportation and health care public sectors, resources are uncoordinated and sometimes underutilized. CHF’s goal in the advocacy arena is to build a bridge of understanding between these two sectors. This will result in increased potential to improve health care transportation access through greater awareness, communication and coordination.
Leadership support for the Child Health Transportation Initiative is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Federal Transit Administration.